“These are the words of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the remaining elders among the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.” (Jeremiah 29:1)
I am mindful, when I write my ponderings and comments on the prophets and their prophecies, that there is often a distinct break between the narration of what the prophets say & do and the actual prophecies. Here for instance there is the lead in that these are “the words of the letter” that Jeremiah sent, and then come the actual words. I imagine notations such as this lead commentators to consider who wrote the prophecies and what the circumstances were. It is easily understood that Jeremiah was not there in Babylon but else where. Further questions could asked such as did Jeremiah actually send the letter or did someone else carry it to Babylon? Was there an actual direction connection between what Jeremiah heard whispered in to his spiritual ear and what he says the “Lord of hosts, the God of Israel” said? The reason I ask/ponder is that the letter seems to have some surprising contents.
“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:
Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (Verses 4 – 7)
Back when the Hebrews were first coming in to the land that would be Israel and Judah they were told to keep themselves separate and apart from those who already dwelt in the land. The fine print was that they would become the majority in the land and would supplant those who had dwelt there before them. But this time is different. This time they were to abide peacefully amongst the Babylonians and seek their welfare so that there own welfare would be assured. They are in a very different position than previous times.
And it occurs to me that advice would, could, and should transmit down to us. But the question becomes for us (and most probably for those taken from Jerusalem) how much should we “fade” into society and how much should we hold to our distinctiveness?
I wish I could carry forth my reflections and pondering further – but this evening I am suffering the miseries of a cold that I caught, no doubt, from one of my co-workers. And yes, there is irony in sharing their germs but striving to remain my own person who rarely becomes ill. Again there is fodder for pondering but my brain cells are crying congestion and fogginess.
May you beloved reader be inspired to ponder where your musings take you, and to journey in good health! Selah!